Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 16, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

REPUBLICANS IN TROUBLE?.... Democrats are ahead by 14 percentage points in Gallup's latest generic congressional poll. That's good. It's always better to be ahead than behind.

But the number itself is misleading. As near as I can tell, Democrats routinely poll about ten points better than Republicans in these polls early in the year, so their real lead right now is probably more like three or four points. If this holds up through the summer, it means that Dems are likely to hold onto their current majority and maybe even pick up a few seats. If it expands, the results might be even better. At the very least, though, it's good news that Democrats are polling so well even though they control Congress and congressional approval ratings are in the toilet. Apparently voters aren't blaming them for the gridlock.

Kevin Drum 12:43 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (70)

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Al,

You're not even good at it anymore. Take a rest.

Posted by: phleabo on February 16, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Cue David Broder to explain why this is "good news for Republicans." Dave, is that you? Why are you calling yourself "Al"?

Posted by: Jennifer on February 16, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

So Al, where's this truth that will out? Is it something like the deepening recesion. You know the one which is directly atributable to the congenital inability of Republicans to restrain the practices of monied interests. Greenspan and company thought it was just wonderful to allow the mortgage industry to run amok.

Posted by: bigTom on February 16, 2008 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Whoop Whoop Whoop Whoop, dog whistle alert, dog whistle alert . . .

"I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she's feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal."

- Barack Obama, February 15, 2008

"You challenge the status quo and suddenly the claws come out."

- Barack Obama, February 7, 2008

“You're likeable enough, Hillary.”

- Barack Obama, January 5th, 2008


Hey and the aren't even from random people unaffiliated with the candidate, the campaign, or the party.

Maybe, if she becomes president we can monitor her hormones and promote the VP once a month or when ever there's an impending hot flash.

Posted by: B on February 16, 2008 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

The media will eventually let on that McCain is pro-endless wars, which the US has turned against. And they will report that McCain admits he doesn't know anything about the economy, that he thinks interest rates should be zero, etc.

Oh, wait -- that is fantasy world, where the media aren't corporate shills.

The media need this to be a horserace. So it will be.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on February 16, 2008 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Never mind, let's circle the wagons. Put the bitterness behind us.

Posted by: B on February 16, 2008 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

The Democrats need to show that they are not going to just complain a little, and then give Bush whatever he asks for. Why bother to vote for a party of "me-too" candidates?

Colin

Posted by: Colin on February 16, 2008 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

While it is true that a significant, but not large, majority of Americans favor Democrats and the Democrats' policies, generally, one election days, Americans vote for other reasons than policies.

A very large number of American voters do not connect their votes with specific policy choices. And, too, many Americans do not believe that different policy choices will change anything in their lives for the better.

A majority of those tested preferred New Coke to the old formula when they drank it. But when drinking the old formula became the equivalent of standing up for American values, they rejected what they said they preferred.

Americans do stuff like this all the time.

Posted by: James E. Powell on February 16, 2008 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

"At the very least, though, it's good news that Democrats are polling so well even though they control Congress and congressional approval ratings are in the toilet. Apparently voters aren't blaming them for the gridlock."

This seems like nothing new, just the typical dynamic: everyone thinks that Congress is dysfunctional, and blames everyone else's representatives as the cause, but feel perfectly happy to re-elect their own rep.

Posted by: msmackle on February 16, 2008 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK
Never mind, let's circle the wagons. Put the bitterness behind us.

Yeah, like "circle the wagons," isn't intended as an anti-Native American dogwhistle attack.

Lousy cracker-ass mofo.

Posted by: phleabo on February 16, 2008 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Preferring Classic Coke = Standing up for American values? Whew! I never knew. Does that mean that those of us who drink Diet Coke are merely sunshine patriots?

Posted by: THS on February 16, 2008 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Can someone please explain why Democrats typically poll better early in the year as Kevin states? Is it because the Republican slime machine is on vacation or something like that?

Lew

Posted by: Lew on February 16, 2008 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

the important issue in this year's house races isn't the generic ballot (well, that's never the important issue, so maybe i should say indicator), it's the number of republicans who are retiring.

giving the tremendous advantage of incumbency, this is really where the dems have a chance to make enough pickups to at least minimize the influence of the blue dogs.

Posted by: howard on February 16, 2008 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Let's put a common misperception to rest - the pioneers did not circle wagons when attacked - they formed parallel lines and kept moving. Circled in equaled trapped. (I didn't know this before my husband started his book.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 16, 2008 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

I developed this "common misperception" as a result of watching Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles too many times to count.

Posted by: genome on February 16, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

Me too, genome. :)

I have a severe case of authors wife syndrome right now...

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 16, 2008 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

And another thing: the pioneers knew karate and fought the Indians with battle-axes, in between making bloodthirsty prayers to the Christian god.

Posted by: Swan on February 16, 2008 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

The general American population has leaned Democratic since the New Deal. Poll after poll, when the questions are asked in an unbiased, unambiguous way, have shown that most people prefer Democratic stances on the major issues. The ordinary American does not want to give big tax breaks to the wealthy, dismantle the social safety net or take away a woman's right to choose her own reproductive destiny. They are willing to pay higher taxes, if it would result in cleaner air and water, or improve the educational system. And they think we spend far too much money on unnecessary military systems like Star Wars, aircraft carriers and B-2 bombers. Republicans cannot win on the issues - which is why they sling mud, lie and lie and lie and try to invoke fear in people.

Democrats are and have been in the majority for the last 70 years - we just need them to get out and VOTE!!!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 16, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

WarHawk Mccain will be beat in November by his own party because of his foul mouth, besides a vote for McCain is a vote for 3rd generation of Bush in office and we all know what that means and this country cannot stand for another eight years of turmoil as a result of more Republican Bullshit.

Posted by: Al on February 16, 2008 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

On the basis of no evidence whatsoever, I fearlessly predict that Congress's poll numbers, and particularly the House Democratic Caucus's poll numbers, are about to rise because they finally stood up to King George.

It's about time

Posted by: joel hanes on February 16, 2008 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Al wrote: "The only question is which republican will be McCain's successor in 2016."

That's hardly the "only" question, even if you are right that McCain will be the next President (which he may well be). Indeed, a more imminent question which will heavily influence that one, is the question of who McCain will choose as his running mate in 2008.

I agree with Nicholas Von Hoffman who recently wrote in The Nation that McCain might do well to choose Condi Rice as his VP candidate, which would offset the appeal of the Democrats nominating a woman or a black man for the Presidency.

On the other hand, I think that McCain might also do well by choosing Huckabee for his VP, to ensure that the right-wing fundamentalists will get out the vote; or by choosing Joe Lieberman to go after the so-called "moderate" "centrist" "bi-partisan" voters.

I think that whether the Democrats nominate Clinton or Obama, neither one of them is going to triumphantly roll over McCain, and Democrats who are already crowing over their preferred candidate's landslide victory over McCain are letting wishful thinking set them up for disappointment.

By the time the corporate media has thoroughly "Gored" and "Swiftboated" the Democratic nominee, it will be a very close election, and as we know from 2000 and 2004, the Republicans don't need to win it -- they only need to get close enough to steal it.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 16, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

BG, what's the hubby writing?

And, re the "circled in," I picture one G.A. Custer, summer 1876, about five minutes before meeting his demise:

"Damn, maybe I should have formed parallel lines!"

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 16, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

He helped a friend develop a course on the era of the Border War - the turn of the century (he can easily access the archives at our local Army bases) and the bug bit him. Then Deadwood came out and he was in full-blown disease.

He can (and does) lecture for hours on Reno's cowardice and the other problems the 7th faced - like contracts going to friends of the connected for substandard equipment, and sending the Cavalry to do an Infantry job. (Did ya know that every fourth man stood and held the horses?)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 16, 2008 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

When locked in Republican Reps like mine declare they are not seeking reelection, something has changed. He may be hoping for McCain's senate seat, but I think even he may have doubts about an easy reelection. That does not mean most of the Democrats who might replace the Republicans will be any better, but a few will be.

Posted by: Brojo on February 16, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

I second joel haines' sentiments. The reason Democrats routinely rate highly in generic polling of this sort is because they are being compared to Republicans. However, the reason the Democratic-controlled Congress has low ratings is because they have done little to stand up to King George.

I'm not going to get my hopes up that this past week's show of backbone will become a habit for congressional Democrats. In the unlikely event it does, I expect we will see congressional approval ratings rise to match this sort of generic polling --- and a Democratic surge in November even greater than what we saw in 2006 (of course, the high rate of incumbent GOP retirements doesn't hurt).

Posted by: David Bailey on February 16, 2008 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

"As near as I can tell, Democrats routinely poll about ten points better than Republicans in these polls early in the year"

Like Lew above, I wonder what explains this effect. Is this the same as any "unnamed" Democrat always outpolling an unnamed Republican, but then once the names are attached (and the negative ads come out) the Repubs close the gap?

In 2004, I think this effect was strong, but caused by something else - people knew Bush was a world-class asshole, and an incompetent dumbass to boot, but they voted their fears: they voted for the guy who would kick more Muslim ass. Simple as that. They were embarrassed to admit it, as people are embarrassed to admit even being Republicans now, because it's not cool. It's like being an environmentalist, people think they should, and so would claim to be in polls, but their private behavior would not reflect it.

People are (increasingly) embarrassed to admit to voting for a Republican, a good sign by itelf, but when it comes to pulling the lever, many will secretly pull it for the asshole who will kill more Arabs. It's like voting white South Africans voting for De Klerk, they wouldn't want to admit to voting for the one who wanted to slow reform of apartheid, but many did.

Posted by: luci on February 16, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

It's pretty obvious that the Republicans effectively demonize specific Democrats, but the Democrats do not do a good job of the reverse. Hence Generic (D - Wherever) outpolls any actual Democratic candidates.

Posted by: FreakyBeaky on February 16, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Remember the congressional poll for 2006 actually predicated their margin in popular votes (about 7 points). So the generic polls can work sometimes.

Posted by: MNPundit on February 16, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Horseholders, BG? Yes. Already in the Civil War. Especially once Union cav got repeaters. They essentially were mounted infantry, kind of like modern armored infantry or something. I assume the two of you have made multiple trips to Fort Riley?

Border War, and turn of the century? The Pancho Villa (and related) incursions? (Which many TV commentators overlooked in 9/11 and talks about attacks on American soil.) Or, the turn of this century immigration "border war"? Or the Border War of your own era, Quantrill vs. Jayhawkers, etc?

Re the sutlers and other contract problems. Remember, that's why Custer almost didn't go to the Greasy Grass... pissing the hell out of Grant after fingering the Prez's own brother.

As I'm sure you're aware, the Sioux/Cheyenne actually had better weapons than most the U.S. Army troops that day.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 16, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Part of the reason Dems outpoll Republicans in generic polls: They actually get more votes! There have only been 2 times in the past 40 years where Republicans got more votes in Congressional Elections: 1994 and 2002. The problem for Dems is that, because of gerrymandering, the votes aren't translated directly into seats.

Posted by: Matt Stevens on February 16, 2008 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

I was referring to the Quantrill/Jayhawkers Border War that preceded the Civil War. And yep, the 7th was outgunned - and those Spencer repeaters that they had previously? Yeah, they didn't have those. They had single-shot breech-loaders that were obtained on a specious contract.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 16, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

BG, on Reno's "cowardice," what's the hubby's take? I've always seen him as, basically, a victim of shellshock (the spattered brains bit) rather than a coward.

Oh, and years, years, ago, back in the 70s, somebody made a TV movie about, what if Custer had survived, and then been court-martialed. Missed the end of it, so I don't know what its verdict was.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 16, 2008 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

I'll get his exact words and email you later.

I saw that movie on PBS - I remember the arrogance portrayed by the actor playing Custer, but not the verdict. I do recall that William Daniels (Dr. Craig on St. Elsewhere) played the other survivor, and got ripped to shreds on the stand for having a hip-flask of liquid courage.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 16, 2008 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

people knew Bush was a world-class asshole, and an incompetent dumbass to boot, but they voted their fears: they voted for the guy who would kick more Muslim ass. Simple as that.

luci is right on the money.

It worries the hell out of me.

Posted by: Lucy on February 16, 2008 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Let's cut all the crap-talk-- what I'd really like to know is, what could Jack Bauer do if it came down to him flying alone in a space-shuttle towards a disabled spy-satellite with one hand grenade in his hand?

All the figuring and re-figuring by a bunch of nerds tinkering with a missile sure can't beat one determined man with a hand grenade on a space shuttle, we all know.

Posted by: Swan on February 16, 2008 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Apparently voters aren't blaming them for the gridlock.

voters aren't nearly as stoopid as the washington d.c. commentariat -- who run about a year behind public opinion.

Posted by: linda on February 16, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Voters aren't blaming the Dems? Could Reid, Pelosi, Hoyer be any more responsible? Could Obama and Clinton have shown any less leadership?

What a bunch of craven moneysucking morons we let lead us. A pox on them all.

/bitter today

Posted by: jerry on February 16, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Voters aren't blaming the Dems? Could Reid, Pelosi, Hoyer be any more responsible? Could Obama and Clinton have shown any less leadership?

What a bunch of craven moneysucking morons we let lead us. A pox on them all.

/bitter today

Posted by: jerry on February 16, 2008 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Voters aren't blaming the Dems? Could Reid, Pelosi, Hoyer be any more responsible? Could Obama and Clinton have shown any less leadership?

What a bunch of craven moneysucking morons we let lead us. A pox on them all.

/bitter today

Posted by: jerry on February 16, 2008 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry for the triple post. User issue. The user has been sacked.

Posted by: jerry on February 16, 2008 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

More playign with statistics from resident liberal shill, Kevin Drum.

Notice how there is no y access on the graph. Why, you ask? Because the graph probably starts at a number higher than 0, so that the difference between the two looks more dramatic. Pretty pathetic, but understandable given that the liberals haven't had a major political victory in over 10 years and counting.

Posted by: egbert on February 16, 2008 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, egbert, you drip-lipped doofus...I refer you to November 2006.

And what the fuck is a "y access"?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 16, 2008 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

The y "access" looks like it fits the scale 0 to 100 percent pretty well Egbert.
Drip-lipped doofus.

Posted by: smuggler on February 16, 2008 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, keep me out of this argument!

Posted by: Drip-lipped Doofus on February 16, 2008 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Blue Girl:

Sad to report that George MacDonald Fraser, author of Flashman and the Redskins, passed away a few weeks ago. It was one of the series about Sir Harry Flashman, and in this one he survives the battle of the little bighorn and tells about it fifty years later. Fraser is best known for his books about the Victorian era (including the Flashman books) and was also a prolific film writer whose credits include the Three Musketeers among others.

Fraser's nephew Andrew owns the local Brit Pub here in San Pedro, but unfortunately I never had a chance to meet the author, who actually lived on the Isle of Man for the latter part of his life when he wasn't having film-meets in Hollywood.

Posted by: Bob G on February 16, 2008 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

"y access?"

That's gotta be a joke. The irony of a winger not being able to spell Axis is just too great.

Posted by: phleabo on February 16, 2008 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

There's certainly plenty of access to evil these days.

Posted by: Kenji on February 16, 2008 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I guess this poll proves that the reign of terror is over. Let's all go listen to our Pete Seeger records now, and stop paying attention to the blogs.

Posted by: Swan on February 16, 2008 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

Don't put your money down yet.

I'm still betting on an October surprise... a newly-captured Osama being paraded through Washington, a fresh terror threat. (etc.)

These folks are not going to relinquish power gracefully.

Posted by: Buford on February 16, 2008 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

Bob G... you a fan of alt-history, too? If so, I recommmend "What If" and "What If 2."

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on February 16, 2008 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

As far as Matt Yglesias can tell, 14 points is an extraordinarily wide margin.
http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/02/in_context.php

It is easy to get a huge amount of data on what is a typical generic congress spread from
www.pollingreport.com

in 2004, the Democrats never had such a margin and roughly 8 months before election day the polls were roughly tied

http://www.pollingreport.com/cong2004.htm

same in 2002
http://www.pollingreport.com/2002.htm

same in 2000
http://www.pollingreport.com/u_s.htm

a 14 point margin is huge.

Of course in 2006 the Democrats were way ahead, but they went on to win big. At a glance, I don't notice much narrowing. Of course, the composition of the House is not equal to the popular vote. I tend to guess that Democrats are under-represented compared to the popular vote due to lopsided victories in majority minority districts. Given the high number of Republican retirements, a 14% margin now suggests substantial Democratic gains.

Posted by: Robert Waldmannn on February 16, 2008 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

All pretty meaningless if HRC gets the nomination somehow (doesn't seem likely, however). Her presence on the ticket will drive up GOP participation just like gay marriage state measures did. Her coattails will be quite short.

Posted by: CB on February 16, 2008 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

My favorite Little-Big-Horn-related book is Thomas Berger's Little Big Man (which, of course, makes no pretense of being historically accurate; it has "historiness"). The movie's fun, but the book has some iconoclastic bite in with the fun. It's safe to say that Berger does not portray The Son Of The Morning Star in a positive light.

It's hard for me to root for Custer in any event, given the way that the Cavalry's mission in those days looks like rank genocide to modern sensibilities. Nevertheless, he was a fool not to wait for Terry.

If I were Emperor of the United States, every high school would teach Dee Brown's Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.

Posted by: joel hanes on February 16, 2008 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

After Bush Democrats should be ahead about 30%. Why isn't that happening?

Are Republicans just like Charlie Brown and believe that with every new Republican candidate there is still hope they'll be for small goverment and low taxes and patriotism and all that stuff Bush trashed?

When will Republicans learn that their candidates just use them? How long will it take for Libertarian-leaning Republicans and Evangelical Christian Republicans to learn that the powers within the Republican party would never let a Huckabee or Ron Paul become president?

The Republicans have been divided during this campaign as never before. They shouldn't be able to do better than 30-35% in the general election.

Or, maybe Lucy will hold that football one more time.

Posted by: MarkH on February 16, 2008 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

Pennsylvania's Democratic U.S. Representative Mike Doyle said it best in a letter to the editor:

"...House and Senate Republicans did work to obstruct progress on a number of issues this year, and the president became the "Obstructor in Chief." Nonetheless the House of Representatives passed a number of important bills. It passed legislation to make our country safer from terrorism, raise the minimum wage for the first time in 10 years, require Medicare to negotiate with drug manufacturers for lower prescription prices, improve health care for veterans, increase financial aid for college students, and replace oil industry tax breaks with research on energy-efficient technology and renewable fuels."

"The House approved all 12 of the 2008 appropriations bills by August 5--two months before the beginning of the fiscal year. The House adopted an energy independence bill that would make our country's cars, buildings, lights and appliances more energy-efficient and promote the use of renewable fuels to reduce global warming. The House approved legislation to provide health care coverage to 5 million children who are uninsured."

"Finally, and most significantly, the House voted repeatedly to change the course of the war in Iraq and bring our troops home."

"Unfortunately, many of these bills were vetoed by the president or blocked by Senate Republicans threatening to filibuster. While there may be some "dithering" going on, it's not occurring in the House of Representatives. House Democrats continue to fight for the principles and priorities that the American people elected us to pursue."

I clipped this a while back and am sharing.

Posted by: consider wisely always on February 16, 2008 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

I presume some of the Democratic lead in the polls is based on buyer's remorse on the part of "independents" who voted Republican and now regret it. Another reason is, of course, that the campaign between the two parties has yet to really begin. There are a lot of "Democrats" who treasure their wallets more than their liberties and, faced with even the possibility of higher taxes, will vote Republican.
Oh, and expect a very, very dirty campaign from the Republicans. Hopefully, it will backfire, but it hasn't yet.

Posted by: Doug on February 16, 2008 at 9:13 PM | PERMALINK

Robert Waldmann wrote:

Of course in 2006 the Democrats were way ahead, but they went on to win big. At a glance, I don't notice much narrowing.

If you look at a chart on Matt's site today, we were up by about 23 points in early October of that year, but over the course of the month the Republicans narrowed the gap by something like 10 points. So I don't know what you're talking about or if you actually took a glance at anything you claim to be describing.

Posted by: Swan on February 16, 2008 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

The comment at 6:20 was a joke, by the way.

Posted by: Swan on February 16, 2008 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

"Just ask the Access,
he knows everything!"

Jimi Hendrix

Posted by: thersites on February 16, 2008 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK


Democrats need to start making some noise. The Republicans generally, and the "conservative movement," in particular, have be one colossal failure after another, from deficits, to Katrina, to torture, to the incredible danger our economy is now in, to the most precipitous fall of American prestige in our history. And on and on and on.

Democrats need to start using "Republican" and "failure" in the same sentence over and over and over. Make sure EVERYBODY knows who's to blame for this God-awful mess.

Posted by: Nat Felton on February 16, 2008 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

people are embarrassed to admit even being Republicans now...

Oh, the memories! 1970's Dallas,TX. My grandmother would tear into anyone who was brave enough to admit they were conservative around her.

Conservatism fails every time it is tried...

Posted by: elmo on February 16, 2008 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

G, on Reno's "cowardice," what's the hubby's take? I've always seen him as, basically, a victim of shellshock (the spattered brains bit) rather than a coward.

Sweet Clio, Mother of History, are there still people trying to excuse Custer? He guessed wrong at the numbers and morale of the enemy, screwed up his attack plan, and he died. Everything else is details.

Custer actually got in the same fix during the Civil War, at Trevilian Station in Virginia, and managed to get out of it because he had a forest for cover and Phil Sheridan, who was playing Reno's role in the battle, had enough manpower to blast Wade Hampton out of his way and pull off a rescue.

Reno was outnumbered, outgunned, and his command was too shot up to maneuver. Crazy Horse out-generalled the both of them (and George Crook as well) and well deserves that big monument out in Wyoming.

Posted by: Berken on February 16, 2008 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry to hear that George McDonald Fraser has passed on. I really enjoyed reading the "Flashman" series. They were a mix of historical fact with the fictional Sir Harry playing an active part in noteworthy events. I read the first book in 1970 when I was in the Army, stationed at Ft. Benning. I eagerly awaited each new book, and was looking forward to Flashman in the U.S. Civil War, where he served on both sides. I hoped Mr. Fraser would live long enough to write it; guess I've lost out.

Posted by: KYBob on February 16, 2008 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

Socratic and KYBob:

I used to read huge amounts of sci fi which included a little alternate history, but just keeping up with muscle derived stem cells is keeping me busy nowadays. Yes, I was wondering if the civil war book would ever appear. I guess we'll have to wait to see if it appears in a trunk of Fraser's papers (that's an in-joke to Flashman readers).

I visited a couple of civil war battlefields and the Alamo in recent years and it's remarkable how these battles hinged around colossal blunders on both sides. Chickamauga involves the Union side pulling the troops from the center of its line (mistaking where the enemy were) and having the enemy pour through; and in a different battle, one large Union contingent led by General Lew Wallace couldn't find their way to the fight at Shiloh. It's a big intellectual jump to imagine fighting wars without even knowing exactly where your own troops are, much less where the enemy's are.

Posted by: Bob G on February 17, 2008 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

There's gonna be a Democratic president and Democratic congress next year--I love it!

Posted by: haha on February 17, 2008 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on February 17, 2008 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

just can't understand why no one will hire Swan.

Posted by: as it unfolds on February 18, 2008 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK
But the number itself is misleading. As near as I can tell, Democrats routinely poll about ten points better than Republicans in these polls early in the year, so their real lead right now is probably more like three or four points.

The lead right now is, from the evidence of the poll, probably more like 14 points. I suspect you will find in most of the historical elections from which your "Democrats routinely poll about ten points better than Republicans in these polls early in the year" is drawn, Democrats also outpolled Republicans by some margin on election day, as well, even in some of the elections in which they didn't end up with more seats in the House.

(A more useful and interesting poll result would be one showing the number of Congressional districts in which Democrats lead Republicans, and the degree by which they do.)

Posted by: cmdicely on February 18, 2008 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

BGRS,

Let's put a common misperception to rest - the pioneers did not circle wagons when attacked - they formed parallel lines and kept moving. Circled in equaled trapped. (I didn't know this before my husband started his book.)

Your husband started reading?

Okay, okay, I kid, I kid. You know I have nothing but respect for you and your husband, and I don't even know him. It is just that the ball was floating in over the plate and I had to take a swing at it. It was reflex. Sorry.

Posted by: Tripp on February 18, 2008 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

You should know me well enough by now to know I am busting up laughing over here. If I was drinking coffee right now, it would be coming out my nose. :)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 18, 2008 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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